Central blood pressure: current evidence and clinical importance

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Abstract

Pressure measured with a cuff and sphygmomanometer in the brachial artery is accepted as an important predictor of future cardiovascular risk. However, systolic pressure varies throughout the arterial tree, such that aortic (central) systolic pressure is actually lower than corresponding brachial values, although this difference is highly variable between individuals. Emerging evidence now suggests that central pressure is better related to future cardiovascular events than is brachial pressure. Moreover, anti-hypertensive drugs can exert differential effects on brachial and central pressure. Therefore, basing treatment decisions on central, rather than brachial pressure, is likely to have important implications for the future diagnosis and management of hypertension. Such a paradigm shift will, however, require further, direct evidence that selectively targeting central pressure, brings added benefit, over and above that already provided by brachial artery pressure.

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